In U.S.A. v. Panell, Crim. No. 14-80 (U.S.D.C.). A suburban mother of three facing up to five years in federal prison for conspiracy to commit murder-to-hire. Her common law husband was in jail facing charges of capital murder. It was alleged that she hired a hit man to kill the three witnesses to that capital murder charge in an effort to protect her husband. The hit-man-turned-informant provided evidence to the FBI.

Despite incriminating recordings of discussions between Sonia and the hit man, Ms. Lefeber was able to compile a compelling case that caused the federal judge to reduce the sentence to three years’ probation (including time already served).

Ms. Lefeber highlighted her client’s tragic past, which included losing two children and a sister to a house fire, recurring flashbacks from extreme post-traumatic stress disorder, and multiple suicide attempts. Ms. Lefeber was able to demonstrate her vulnerability and how the co-conspirators manipulated her.

Expert psychiatric testimony brought in by Ms. Lefeber locked in the judge’s decision. Today, her client is free and able to care for her children and get the counseling she needs to overcome her past.